What will your 2022 story be? You, not your boss, not HR, are the author of your own success story

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What will your 2022 story be?  You, not your boss, not HR, are the author of your own success story

We all love stories. Stories touch us more than logic or facts. They show us what is possible and what success looks like, much more powerfully than any other medium. They stay in our memory longer.

Recently I heard some great stories that my people were involved in. These stories were about people of all ages who decided to learn something that improved their lives, futures or businesses. I won’t go into the details, but there was a clear pattern in these stories. The people in them demonstrated great agency and took personal responsibility for their future success.

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It does not matter what stage you are at in your life. Things are now the same for everyone — 2020 and 2021 taught me this personally. For me, it was especially true for subjects I had 20 years of experience in and felt confident about. I knew that if I did not learn, it would be a very frustrating time in my life.

I realised that even as the head of my organisation, no one could help me fast enough. It was either do it myself, or it would be too late. Circumstances and jobs now change so quickly that no one can understand what individuals need, faster or better than the individual.

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I enjoyed countless hours finding and taking online courses to fill my skills gaps quickly and share my learning with my people. Yes, there are common skills we all need that I have talked about in the past, but for your unique position, and your story, you have to be the author of your success.

I know you are busy, and I know your company signs you up for development events of varying quality and usefulness. I know this will continue. But like many things in life, the advantage is at the edges. The standard training that everybody gets helps, but it creates standards. It is up to you to build on that, find ways to use it, and develop adjacent skills to win.

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You may be a convincing sales executive in person. That is not always transferrable to the virtual, socially distanced world. Now you need different presentation and engagement skills when your face is a tiny dot on the screen.

You might need to uplift your writing skills to fit new media to get appointments. You may need storytelling skills to replace props. If you wait for your company to organise this kind of training, what will happen to your sales numbers in the meantime?

Get out of your comfort zone: We need to put aside what we may think we are good at, and we know. We have to accept that we will suck at the new skills for quite some time. Without accepting our status as a beginner, we will never travel the road to improvement.

For example, I have had to learn things that younger members of my organisation would consider extremely basic concerning technology — things they learned in school. It doesn’t matter. Accept that it is okay to be bad at this new skill now but understand you will get better quickly. You are already doing better than colleagues or competitors who do not make this leap in the first place.

Start learning: Anything! It doesn’t matter how small. Ask yourself what small things you could learn that could improve your performance or results. It could be something as small as some new Excel tricks. It could be how innovative salespeople are getting meeting confirmations via LinkedIn. There doesn’t have to be a course for it. It could be something a colleague, peer or younger person could teach you over lunch.

If you don’t like attending classes, find a method that works for you. It doesn’t even have to be about your job directly. Learning is addictive (if you do it right), and it provides compound interest on the time you invest in it. But like exercise or relationships, it only pays out when you invest yourself in it.

Look ahead: Look at how much jobs have changed over the past two years. Look how your role has transformed. Keep looking forward and identify the skills you know will be essential in the future. For example, in my organisation, the leadership skills required are transforming. Many traditional skills remain but have changed.

Leaders now need to inspire and engage people they may only see once per week. They need to support and develop people working in another part of Bangkok or the country. They need to engage new people they may have never had the chance to meet in person. Doing this means building new skills. Once you understand where things are going, you can start immediately and ensure your future success and relevance.

In the empowering stories I mentioned at the start of this article, success came from getting started. The people who told these stories all had to decide to make a change, they all had to decide what the first step would be, and they all had to decide to commit and get started.

People around them may have offered suggestions or advice. They may have made them aware of some opportunities. But none of them attended a random class and struck gold. They, like you, had to write their own success story.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at https://forms.gle/wf8upGdmwprxC6Ey9

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